Ruthie and I arrived in the small village of Quntanilla del Rebollar at about six p.m. from Bilbao, and just as we entered the small village we located the sign directing us down a narrow street some three blocks to Prado Mayor.
The inn, whose structure I assume is some 320 to 350 years old, was delightful. A covered veranda, next to the interior courtyard and beneath a large balcony structure, allowed us to sit, shaded, in large comfortable chairs and smell the aroma of native plants. A large garden just outside the exit to the patio/courtyard is tended by Benito. It boasts row upon row of organically grown lettuce, onions, radishes, cucumbers and more.
The rooms are clean, replete with wood everywhere, to include the floors and vigas (joists) that appear to be made of Pyrenean oak. The windows, framed by the building's stone walls, open inward, allowing one to hear an evening rain and, better yet, smell it, reconnecting with nature. Our bathroom, equipped with shower, was modern, clean, and all components worked.
Meals are good. One evening meal consisted of a nice lettuce, onion, and tomato salad, squash puree soup, Spanish-style meatballs (albondigas) with small bits of cooked potatoes intermingled, great crusty bread, and, of course, the ever present tinto to wash it down.
Breakfast we had every day. It usually consisted of toasted Spanish bread, yoghurt, jam, some jamon serrano, or other country ham, cheese, a type of sponge cake, and coffee. Breakfast was typically served from about nine a.m. to eleven. We ate at the earliest opportunity to afford us time to visit Burgos or Santander, telling Olga on those occasions when we wouldn't be back for supper.
We used Prado Mayor as a base to make day trips to Burgos and Santander, but just exploring the great architecture of churches and casonas (large country houses) in the villages around Quntanilla del Rebollar was a treat in and of itself. Many villages consist of no more than twenty houses. Streams dot the countryside androads wind through these small towns and villages at odd angles.
One afternoon, while returning from Burgos, about midway between Soncillo and Quintanilla, Ruthie espied a large nest atop the steeple of a small Romanesque church.
We turned the car around and spent the next 30 minutes photographing a family of storks.
Just studying and photographing the stone carvings on village water fountains in the vicinity and belfries on churches could occupy weeks.
The entire area, known as "Las Merindades," was a delight.
I've travelled on three continents and in the Pacific. I'd have to say this was one of the most pleasant and interesting placed I've ever stayed.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Offering views of the Merindades region, Posada Real El Prado Mayor is a charming 16th-century house set outside the village of Quintanilla del Rebollar. It grows organic produce in its vegetable garden.The Posada Real El Prado Mayor has a pretty setting surrounded by gardens. It features an original stone archway, beamed ceilings and exposed stone walls.Each elegant room has free Wi-Fi and heating. All rooms offer views.Breakfast is served in the Posada’s dining room and there is also a lounge area with a fireplace. Guests can enjoy views of the surrounding countryside from the terrace.Local activities include hiking, cycling and fishing, while Alto Campo Ski Resort can be reached in 1 hour by car. Bilbao, Santander and Burgos are less than 90 km from the Prado Mayor. ... more less
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